I’m finally caught up with the episodes again, so have a timely article for Episode 19 at no extra charge.
I’m gonna go out on a limb and call this the series’ best episode thus far. Sadly the animation isn’t quite as crisp as, say, Episode 17, but some unique (although sparsely scattered) animation keep the visuals from being totally bland this week, largely thanks to Decode Talker. Besides that, the story actually gets a huge bump and the duel between Akira and Yusaku continues to be engaging.
First, the story. It’s no secret that I am not a fan of Yusaku. However, I’ll admit that his stoicism finally makes some sense instead of him just being unfeeling for the heck of it. He seems to distrust getting close to people after the kidnapping incident, which is understandable. He was locked in a room where he was forced to duel almost constantly, and he was only allowed to eat and sleep after winning duels. While there’s still no indication as to the purpose of the kidnapping and duel experiments, it’s at least satisfying to finally learn something about the incident from 10 years ago. That’s enough for now, though I’ll bet we get more information next episode, considering Akira apparently knows the identity of the whole project’s mastermind.
I’m honestly still not sure why Akira won’t reveal the information he has to Yusaku. He seems to want Yusaku to focus on having happiness during his youth instead of focusing on vengeance, but that seems pretty weak all things considered. I believe there’s something else below the surface, and I’ll place some faith in the writers to give him better motivations down the road. The same goes for Aoi, as she appears out of the shadows and claims learning Playmaker’s past will help her find her own path. I have no idea why, but I’m guessing it has something to do with her “sense of justice” schtick back in Episode 2-ish. It mostly just seemed like a way for Akira to be forced to reveal some information, but whatever. There’s a lot of good writing in this episode, so I can forgive some minor questionable writing.
Last, there’s the duel, carried over from the last episode.
That meme aside, I’m a huge fan of this duel, even if Tindangle Cerberus does look ugly as all hell. Akira and Yusaku both utilize very situational cards to get them out of pinches, but it never feels gimmicky. The cards feel like ones they would have had anyway, and they just happened to have them at the correct time. I’m just glad I didn’t have to sit through a montage of Graveyard effects again. I’ll admit, this duel will not be enjoyable for anyone looking for flashy summoning combos or power-ups, but for fans of slower-paced duels, it’s solid. This is truly a good duel with some tense back and forth. It may not be on the levels of some of the franchise’s best, but it’s definitely a stellar duel for VRAINS itself. I’m sure Yusaku will pull something out his butt to make me mad next episode, unless the duel ends in a draw (which is standard for rivals). But until then, I’m really digging this duel and looking forward to its continuation next week.